Manchester United see Pep Guardiola as a collector, wrong fit and City-bound anyway

Andy Mitten writes Manchester United, who see their managers in the tradition of Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson, will not pull out all the stops for well-travelled Pep Guardiola.
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has announced he will leave the club at the end of the 2015/16 season, overwhelmingly presumed for England. Andreas Gebert / EPA
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has announced he will leave the club at the end of the 2015/16 season, overwhelmingly presumed for England. Andreas Gebert / EPA

The idea of Manchester United officials or intermediaries meeting Pep Guardiola in a classic Parisian hotel to snatch the Catalan from under the noses of neighbours Manchester City is very appealing to United fans.

Current boss Louis van Gaal has seen his team falter, the football under him boring fans into slumber.

At 64, the Dutchman is not a long term option for United, though the club always planned for his assistant Ryan Giggs to learn alongside him and then take over with the benefit of having worked under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Van Gaal.

Read more: Ian Hawkey on Pep Guardiola beginning his final mission for Bayern Munich

To get Guardiola would not only give United a man regarded as the best coach in the world, but deal a simultaneous blow to rival City.

Though all parties would naturally be inclined to deny that any such meeting took place, United are adamant it is not true and that fits in with what they’ve been saying long before the December meltdown in form.

Five days before United were eliminated from the Uefa Champions League in Wolfsburg, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward met journalists in Manchester for his first briefing since one in July in Seattle.

The concern in early December was a lack of goals and finding a replacement for the injured left-back Luke Shaw.

Nobody could foresee that United would lose their next four matches and Van Gaal’s popularity would slide downhill.

A full month before Guardiola announced that he was leaving Bayern Munich at the end of this season, Woodard said that Guardiola was going to leave the Bavarian club and that he felt he knew where he was going. That place was not Old Trafford. For over a year, United have been convinced that Guardiola is going to City. It is not a story City have denied.

When United first heard, they were satisfied with newly appointed manager Van Gaal and their plan of Giggs being his successor. At that time, the case for chasing Guardiola was less than now.

While admiring the Catalan who led his side to two European Cup triumphs in two years over United, they also felt that he did a job for three years and then moved on to the next one.

Like Jose Mourinho, he is a collector, who moves around the big clubs.

That was not the model United wanted, preferring the longevity that had served their greatest managers, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson well.

Rightly or wrongly, that was the rationale behind giving David Moyes a six-year contract and for also devolving all powers to the manager rather than via a sporting director, a model now used by the majority of big clubs.

United stand accused of not going for football’s best manager when he has said he is leaving, for failing to press the case of United, a far bigger club with a more distinguished history, over City, who did not win a trophy between 1976 and 2011.

Yet the Old Trafford line on the chase is that no club, including United, is joining in the race as they believe he is going to City and nothing they do can alter that.

That piles yet more frustration on United fans already dissatisfied with the form of their team, the style of play and the underwhelming nature of the signings who have arrived since Louis van Gaal took charge.

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Published: January 22, 2016 04:00 AM

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